There’s something about waterfalls. The combination of sound, movement, power and light is elemental and irresistible, and it’s little wonder that waterfalls have inspired artists, photographers, poets and writers. There is even a school of thought that waterfalls have a calming effect on the mind and body, due to the creation of negative hydrogen ions released by the splitting of water molecules. Personally, I just like ‘em!
Regular readers of this blog will know by now that I like my hills ‘pointy’ and with a peak or two, but failing that a good ‘rugged wilderness’ sort of feel will do. The last week didn’t offer much opportunity for either, but we can usually come up with an idea for a good trip out, however modest in scope. The inspiration in this case came from Chris, who suggested we do something local rather than nothing at all. A good plan as it turned out.
We started from New Bridge near Hebden Bridge, the idea being to follow Hebden Water to Gibson Mill, then beyond to Hardcastle Crags and Black Dean, before returning by the edge of Shackleton Knoll. Not a high mileage day, or high altitude for that matter, with our high point a mere 370 metres. As an extra treat we decided to include Lumb Hole Waterfall to the route.
The outward section following the stream of Hebden Water was very much a woodland walk, with the autumn colours of the trees providing most of the interest. Gibson Mill is now a National Trust property, with a café popular with walkers, but not today though – ‘midweek’ and ‘autumn’ meant ‘closed’ in this case, so we pressed on upstream.
The route through the woods eventually emerges at Black Dean, near Widdop, where the closed nature of the woodland opens up, with views down to the valley below. Alcomden Water took us up to the bridge at Holme Ends, before we turned back on ourselves to head for Shackleton Knoll. Although modest in height, there were good views down Crimsworth Dean to the Calder Valley.
On our way off the high ground we passed the sad remains of derelict farmhouses, before heading down to Crimsworth Dean Beck and Lumb Hole. The waterfalls are not the biggest you would ever come across, but they have a certain charm. The stream above one of the falls is crossed by an old packhorse bridge, and the route must be ancient.
This beauty spot has been well known for decades, and provided the inspiration for a poem by Ted Hughes titled “Six Young Men”. The poem is based on a photograph taken at Lumb Hole shortly before the start of the First World War – of the “Six Young Men” in the photograph, none survived the slaughter of that conflict.
Despite the sombre thoughts expressed in the poem, this is still a pretty place. However, we couldn’t linger too long – coming down from a walk with the help of a headtorch could get to be a too regular event!
Text and images © Paul Shorrock